Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 June 22,1994, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days    

Summer – can be a Season of Surprise – Storms


By Dee Zimmerman


Occasionally, someone will comfortably say, “we don’t get bad summer storms in southern Clark County.”  In recent years, true, we haven’t had any violent wind storms… but, it has happened.


Recently, someone brought us photos as proof of storm damage in Clark County during the early 1900s.


One storm starting near Tioga left a path of destruction in the Towns of Seif, Weston, Pine Valley and Grant on July 3, 1907.  On that Wednesday afternoon it was excessively hot, humid and very still. At about 4 o’clock, the sky became slightly cloudy with three or four layers of clouds, each moving in different directions, which caught the attention of many people.


About a half hour later a tornado made its way cresting over the top of the mounds northwest of the city.  Many Neillsville residents retreated to their basements while others remained to watch the tornado’s course of direction that went east passing on the north of the city.  The tornado moved slowly, weaving back and forth, visible for nearly an hour from the time it was first sighted.


Soon after the tornado lifted, dissipating into another cloud, one of the Buddenhagen boys galloped into town on a winded horse, seeking medical aid for the John Charles family.  Buddenhagen lived on what is now the Wetzel farm.  Soon after, Zura Fricke was brought to the city by buggy, with injuries.  Calls for medical aid came from the Town of Weston, members of the Wenzel, August Beyer, Louis Quast families, and some others who were hurt.  Louis Quast, his wife and all seven children received injuries.


The Chas. Poppe farm was hit as the tornado caught the barn but missed the house.  Richard Beyer’s family lived in a log house and was in the process of building a new farm house when the tornado struck, destroying both houses, the barns, granary, etc.


Also, in the town of Seif, August Voigt’s house and buildings were badly damaged. The C. H. Shepherd farm was razed; John Schwamb’s house and barn were wrecked.  August Halbreader’s farm buildings sustained damage as did August Meihack’s barn.  Slight damage was done at Fred Hrack Jr.'s building, Adolph Hemp’s barn, and John Aumann’s barn was demolished.  Sereno Wren’s buildings received damage, as well as those of John Ott, Wm. Kurth and Ludwig Dugy.  Wm. Buddenhagen’s barn and windmills were damaged; John Charles barns and house were completely destroyed.  Sol Johnson’s house was blown from its foundation, Hy. Bieneck’s barn wrecked and roof blown from residence.  Fred Goerglitz and Seward Way’s barns were damaged.


Jackson County recorded three storm-related deaths and Clark County reported four deaths, one north of Neillsville and three at Pray.


A public meeting was called on the following Saturday afternoon for the purpose of helping the storm victims.  A general committee consisting of the Messrs. B. Dangers, Dan Kennedy, Rev. Burrows, Robert Kurth, Wm. Thoma, Morely, Sniteman and Root were appointed to have charge of the work.  Clothing, shoes and contributions came in to relieve the disaster area.


The following evening, July 4, brought a deluge of rain upon the City, causing washed-out streets.  O’Neill Creek went on a rampage and flooded the first floor of the furniture factory.  A railroad washout caused a train wreck at Sydney, delaying all trains for that day’s run.


An advertisement at the end of the Neillsville Times story, read, “Insure your farm buildings and residences in the Lynn Mutual Tornado, Cyclone or Hurricane Co. of Lynn.  Policies issued for 25 cents per $100 for term of five years.  For further information see B. F. Frazier, S. E. Hutchins or W. C. Thoma or write direct to the company at Lynn.”


Louis Quast’s loss of house, barn, granary, etc. was assessed at $1,075 – wonder what that assessment would be today?




Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.—William James


John Charles farmstead as it appeared after the July 3, 1907 tornado, all buildings were destroyed. Photo Note by Janet: -- The scrap of wood above my yellow dot seemingly pointing toward a "cross" was on the original negative! Photo contributed by Roger Davis


John Walters farm, located two miles north of Neillsville, barn and machinery demolished.  The barn was razed and a portion of the house roof was taken off at the Hy.

Bieneck farm, a short distance north of Neillsville, during the 1907 storm.



A mass of broken boards was all that was left on what was once a barn on the Chas. Poppe farm.

Surrounded by debris, remained a wood stock-watering tank with bent-over cast iron well pump that had the pump jack driving gears still attached with one gear broken half off.



A house, barn and other buildings were damaged in an early 1940’s storm, Neillsville area.



(Photos courtesy of Mrs. John (Ione) Urban, Gordon Vine & Judy Hansen unless otherwise noted )



I remember this tornado. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in high school, and I had just starting working a summer job as a "mother's helper" (cook, laundress, lawn-mower, child-care-giver, etc.) for a family that lived about two miles from our farm.  I went with them as they drove through some of the devastated area.  Linda Mertens



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